Visitors to Amsterdam’s Artis zoo are now able to sit on a bench made mostly from elephant dung, thanks to the work of five students and a group of obliging Asian elephants.
The bench, made up of 65% dung and 35% recycled plastic, currently has a view of the zoo’s elephant enclosure and if it proves durable, it will be a sustainable replacement for the zoo’s all other benches, the zoo said.
The supply side of the project will not be a problem because the Asian elephants are the zoo’s biggest producers of organic waste. Some 300 kilos of dung has to be shovelled out of the enclosure every day, half of which consists of undigested plant material.
The students, from the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, managed to condense this fibre-rich dung into a sturdy material which was then used to make the bench, designed by street furniture makers Circulus.
The coarse structure of the dung gives the bench a unique pattern, Artis said, and any bits that fall off can be easily replaced.
The project is part of the zoo’s drive to recycle animal poo and turn it into new products. Some of the elephant dung is used to make ‘bokashi’, for example, the Japanese name for a mix of dung, plant residue and micro organism which improves the soil.
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